About This Artwork

Diego Rivera
Mexican, 1886–1957

Portrait of Marevna, c. 1915

Oil on canvas
145.7 x 112.7 cm (57 3/8 x 44 3/8 in.)
Signed lower left: D. M. R.

Alfred Stieglitz Collection, gift of Georgia O'Keeffe, 1957.628

© 2018 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Prior to achieving renown as a muralist, Diego Rivera lived in Paris in the milieu of Pablo Picasso and worked in a Cubist manner. Portrait of Marevna depicts Rivera’s mistress, the Russian artist Maria Vorobieff-Stebelska. The couple’s relationship was tempestuous; Rivera later described Marevna as a “she-devil,” and he conveyed a sense of her ferocity in this portrait, particularly in the figure’s distinctive frown and squinting eye. The portrait exemplifies Rivera’s growing adoption of elements of Synthetic Cubism, in which he constructed images sequentially, building layer upon layer in an additive manner rather than deconstructing forms into fragmented planes. Rivera emphasized the geometric patterning of the composition through his use of textures, both painterly and illusionistic. The most notable example of his use of texture is the rectangular form with a brocade pattern, which appears to be a collaged piece of fabric or wallpaper, but is in fact a trompe l’oeil facsimile that alludes to Cubist collage techniques.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

New York, Modern Gallery, Exhibition of Paintings by Diego M. Rivera and Mexican Pre-Conquest Art, October 2-21, 1916, cat. 6.

New York, Museum of Modern Art, Diego Rivera, December 23, 1931-January 27, 1932, not listed in cat.; traveled to Pennsylvania Museum of Art, February 3-10, 1932 and February 12-29, 1932.

Philadelphia, Pa., Philadelphia Museum of Art, History of an American Alfred Stieglitz: "291" and after: Selections from the Stieglitz Collection, 1944, cat. 121.

New York, Museum of Modern Art, Alfred Stieglitz: His Collection, June 10-Aug. 31, 1947, cat. 98, as Portrait of Madame Marcoussis.

Mexico City, Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Museo Nacional de Artes Plasticas, Exposición nacional: Diego Rivera, 50 años de su labor artistica, August-December, 1949, cat. 80, ill. n.p., as Retrato de Madame Marcoussis.

Detroit, Mich., Detroit Institute of Arts, Diego Rivera: A Retrospective, Feb. 10-Apr. 27, 1986, cat. 30, fig. 49; traveled to Philadelphia, Pa., Philadelphia Museum of Art, June 2-Aug. 10, 1986; Mexico City, Mex., Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Sept. 29, 1986-Jan. 4, 1987.

Paris, France, Réunion des musées nationaux, Musée d'Orsay, New York et l'Art Moderne: Alfred Stieglitz et Son Cercle [1905-1930], Oct. 18, 2004–Jan. 16, 2005, cat. 100, ill. p. 179.

Art Institute of Chicago, "The Modern Series: Shatter Rupture Break," February 15-May 3, 2015, no cat.

Publication History

Museo Nacional de Artes Plasticas, Exposicion de Homenaje Nacional, Diego Rivera: 50 Años de Su Labor Artistica, (México, D.F.: Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, 1951), no. 80, ill. n.p.

Bertram D. Wolfe, "The Strange Case of Diego Rivera," Arts Digest 29, 7 (Jan. 1, 1955), ill. p. 8.

Florence Arquin, Diego Rivera: The Shaping of an Artist, 1889-1921 (University of Oklahoma Press, 1971), pp. 84-86, pl. 9, p. 52.

Taracena 1979, p. 40, fig. 66.

Marius de Zayas, "How, When, and Why Modern Art Came to New York," introduction and notes by Francis M. Naumann, Arts Magazine 54, 8 (April 1980), pp. 119-120, fig. 107.

Ramón Favela, Diego Rivera: The Cubist Years, exh. cat. (Phoenix Art Museum, 1984), pp. 111, 123.

Art Institute of Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago: Twentieth-Century Painting and Sculpture, selected by James N. Wood and Teri J. Edelstein (Art Institute of Chicago, 1996), p.34, ill.

Judith A. Barter et al., "American Modernism at the Art Institute of Chicago, From World War I to 1955," (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2009), cat. 10.

"Paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago, Highlights of the Collection," (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2017) p. 96.

Ownership History

Alfred Stieglitz, New York (died 1946) and Georgia O'Keeffe, New Mexico; placed on long-term loan at the Art Institute of Chicago, 1949; formally accessioned by Art Institute of Chicago, 1957.

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